Crews geared up Saturday to fish a car out of the Upper Otay Reservoir in Chula Vista after the vehicle, which turned out to have been stolen, plunged into the water.
An official told NBC 7 a fully submerged car was reported in the water near Otay Lakes and Wueste roads just after 9:45 a.m. At first, it was unknown if anyone was inside. The Chula Vista Police Department, Chula Vista Fire Department, a San Diego Lifeguards dive team and California Highway Patrol all responded to the scene.
After an hour trying to get to the car inside the reservoir, the Chula Vista Fire Department said crews were shifting their efforts from a rescue operation to a recovery. Divers went in and assessed the vehicle, the CVFD said.
By 12:05 p.m., the San Diego Lifeguards at the scene were able to confirm to NBC 7 that there was no one inside the car. Crews continued the process of removing the vehicle from the water.
A few hours later, San Diego Lifeguards confirmed the car was stolen and had been dumped into the reservoir on purpose.
No one was hurt in the recovery operation.
According to the City of San Diego, the Upper Otay Reservoir is the smallest of San Diego’s impounding reservoirs. It was established 60 years ago – in 1959 – as a hatchery for the introduction of Florida-strain largemouth bass. The city’s website said 21 of the 25 largest bass in history “were the progeny of the fingerlings used in that experiment.
The Upper Otay Reservoir has been open to the public since 1996. The gates are open on a seasonal schedule, from February through October, weather permitting – but only on certain days. The reservoir is closed on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Pedestrian access for fishing is allowed year-round on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
When full, the Upper Otay Reservoir has 20 surface acres, according to the City of San Diego.